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sore voice

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Joined: 15 Apr 2005
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 9:33 am    Post subject: sore voice Reply with quote


I teach English in Taiwan 19 hours a week. I've been getting sore throats and sinus problems. I think that my doctor is right - some of it is due to allergies.

But I also find my voice generally hurts. I endeavour to have lessons with more student-student talking time as a good teacher would. Although with 4 hours of Kindergarten a week - they need more drilling.

I've tried not to shout and now use a more normal volume.

BUT...Does anyone know of vocal exercises to strengthen my voice?

Any other advice on protecting my voice and using it effectively would be much appreciated.


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Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1377
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would be most interested in the responses to your post too. Now that I teach some CALL classes with a computer lab, I don't have as much trouble, but I still do occasionally. I found that I could actually speak clearly and continue with the lesson with a cough drop slowly dissolving next to my cheek.
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Joined: 06 Jan 2004
Posts: 533

PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 4:52 am    Post subject: Sore throat and TMJ Reply with quote

Good morning all!

It became curious to me back when I was working in New York, how many teachers suffered from TMJ. It was also curious how many suffered from chronic sore throat. They are both occupational hazards and can both be avoided through warm-up and stretching exercises. Though my suggestion is to look for a voice book like Arthur Lessac's on stage voice techniques, I do offer these ideas for quick relief.

Vocalize with your students. Do ma-me-mi-mo-mu exercises with them. They will do no harm, will actually do a great deal of good.

Do yoga-like yawning exercises to gain a bit more control over your breath. A great deal of sore throat comes from strain put upon the vocal chords because of not supporting the voice with sufficient diagphram.

Don't shout, project. Shouting only makes the kids want to shout. Imagining your voice reaching the back of the room and projecting it there without shouting will lesson stress on your vocal chords and will help in communicating with your students. If you want to get someone's attention whisper (anyone else remember that publicity spot?)

Protect your throat and your breathing aparatus. Wear a scarf when the weather is cold or damp. Don't expose your throat to dry, windy weather. Don't smoke, or if you do, don't do so between classes. Drink at least a half litre of water per hour. Don't get angry during class. Do head and shoulder rolls at the outset of each class. Breath deeply. Make the students speak, they are the ones who need the practice. Don't eat so much bread and pastries, in about 60% of the population they thicken the mucuses and can cause sinus blockage and impede the flow of mucus to the throat thus depriving it of much needed lubrication. Avoid cough-drops or candies or even chewing gum, they get in the way of your tongue when you're trying to pronounce, the sugar rots your teeth (another important part of your vocal production machine) or the sorbital gives you the runs. Again, water is best, or eat an orange between classes, or an apple. Or have a nice hot cup of camomile tea with a touch of honey and lemon. Any specific questions, ask again, I might have specific answers. I have been doing the above for 23 years and can hardly remember an occasion when I had a sore throat due to my work (naturally I've had sore throats due to infections, but not due to my work!)

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Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3030
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you seen Alan Maley's book?
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Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Location: USA and/or Korea

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi! I had to respond to this one. I'm a speech-language pathologist so I know about voice disorders. Let me tell you, teachers are incredibly prone to vocal pathology. They use their voices as professional tools more than almost anyone else (other groups that frequently overuse/abuse their voices include cheerleaders, politicians campaigning, singers--especially those in musicals, and little kids that like to scream and make weird voice noises). Also, female teachers are more prone to voice disorders than male teachers, interestingly enough.

Revel had a lot of good suggestions. Especially important of these were:
1) relaxing your whole body, especially the muscles around your neck.
2) drinking lots of water (not caffiene, not alcohol)
3) not smoking, and not being around smoking people
4) not shouting

Here are some other things that are part of good vocal hygiene. They won't necessarily prevent voice disorders in everyone, because everyone has a different tolerance for vocal use/abuse. But they are likely to help, anyway.
1) rest your voice for about 15 minutes for every hour or so of talking. This means no talking at all during this time. No humming to yourself or singing, either.
2) use a humidifier, so your vocal cords don't dry out.
3) if you have a cold, or if you abused your voice the night before (at a ball game, or at a smokey club) then try not to talk much the next day. Give it a chance to rest and let the swelling in your vocal cords go down.
4) as Revel said, vocal warm-up exercises can be okay. Research shows that they don't help everyone, but they may help you, and they are unlikely to hurt.
5) consider buying a sound-field FM system for your classroom. You can find them online. This is a microphone for you and speakers in strategic places around the room. It doesn't make your voice loud, it just makes it equally audible from all locations. You talk softer, and your students hear better. Research has shown that this is one of the best tools for preventing voice disorders in teachers. It does cost money, though. I don't have one. Maybe when I'm rich and famous...

There are other things speech-language pathologists who specialize in voice disorders can teach you, such as easy onset of vowels and fool-proof voice relaxation methods. If you want to find and SLP, go to Another really good bet is to visit your local Eye & Ear Infirmary; they usually have SLP voice specialists there.

If you want any more info, feel free to PM me.
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Joined: 23 Dec 2010
Posts: 1
Location: England

PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even though this is an old forum thread, it still appears in the Google search results, and the topic discussed in the thread is still very relevant. I therefore decided that it would be worthwhile adding a link to a couple of YouTube videos I have found which demonstrate some simple, but very effective voice exercises. I use these exercises every day.

Simply visit this voice exercises page for explanatory notes, and links to the videos.

Cheers, Gary Smile

PS - These exercises work equally well for singing and public speaking, so don't make the mistake of thinking they are only for singers.
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Joined: 12 Aug 2010
Posts: 26
Location: Madrid, Spain

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speak from your diaphragm. This requires breathing from your diaphragm also... Good posture (back straight, head up) helps a lot to project your voice and use your diaphragm, and in practices like yoga and pilates there's a lot of information about diaphragm breathing. It sure helps me!
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